Exploring New Orleans French Quarter

My husband and I spent the second half of our honeymoon exploring New Orleans, LA.  We had embarked on a 5 day cruise in the Gulf of Mexico, and returned to the port of New Orleans, where we spent a couple days of adventure in The Big Easy.

We didn’t have a detailed outline for our adventure.  We had booked a hotel, Hampton Inn and Suites, a few blocks from Bourbon Street.  Which also meant we were within walking distance of the French Quarter.  (That actually may seem like a lot of walking for some, but my husband and I enjoying walking around versus taking a taxi everywhere).  We actually walked everywhere we needed to go, with little driving except on the first day to get to from the port to the French Quarter, then to our hotel.

As we were deboarding the cruise ship it was sprinkling rain.  The weather was a little more dreary than I had anticipated.  Luckily, we had packed winter clothes in a suit case we left in the car.  The rain was light and didn’t dampen our spirits any.

Cafe du Monde New Orleans

The first stop we knew we had to make was Cafe du Monde.  The iconic coffee shop known for its beignets and cafe au lait.  The line was atrociously long for sit down service.  We had an tip from a friend that there is a much shorter line on the back side of the building to grab your treats to-go, which is what we decided to do.

We continued to stroll around the area and the rain soon let up.  The horse carriages around Jackson Square were a nice sight to see.

Jackson Square NOLA Horse Carriage
Jackson Square, NOLA.

With the weather being damp, we decided to focus on the indoor activities on our list.  My husband is an entomologist, so naturally we had to check-out the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium.   The Insectarium is a 10 minute walk from Cafe du Monde.

As you enter the building you will find several collections of various insect species to view while waiting in line.  Here we bought the full day pass that included access to both the Insectarium, Aquarium, and tickets to watch one I-MAX movie.

NOLA Insectarium
Insectarium, NOLA

The Insectarium is basically one long hallway with several exhibit rooms to each side.  The hallway is very wide, with live invertebrates displayed throughout (check out the map here).  I think my husband could have spent all day here.  There was an incredible amount of insects, and there are some really cool facts to learn!

Fun Fact: The Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium is the largest museum devoted to insects and their relatives in North America!

Morinventures NOLA Insectarium
Casey looking at fossils under a microscope.

It was fun walking through the exhibits, and I felt like I had my own personal tour guide as my husband gave me interesting facts about the insects he could identify.  We made stops often because there were many insects displayed that I had never seen before.

Located at the opposite end of the Insectarium entrance is ‘Bug Appetit,’ which is a little area that serves samples of edible bugs.  Casey and I both tried some, and the samples were surprisingly tasty!

We made the loop down the long corridor and back, which took us a little over an hour.  Near the gift shop you will find the butterfly gallery, which was the last exhibit we visited at the Insectarium.  The setup is like a Japanese garden, complete with a coy fish pond.

NOLA Insectarium Butterfly Gallery

We finished our tour of the Insectarium around noon.  We searched Google Maps to find some local food, but while we were walking and searching we came across a restaurant that wasn’t listed on Google Maps, tucked away from normal traffic.  I’m not sure the place even had a name, but it did have a sign by the door that read “Pizza.”  It was small, but did serve some very delicious pizza and cheesy breadsticks.

After lunch we made our way to the I-MAX theater, where we watched a movie on the Ice Age.  It was a short film, and afterwards we went next door to the aquarium.  Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is a complete immersion of the underwater worlds.

NOLA Aquarium Entrance
Great Mayan Reef Entrance.

We started in the Great Mayan Reef entrance.  It is a long tunnel that takes you through a coral reef.  I was aw-struck watching the sting rays swim overhead.

The aquarium is two floors filled with amazing aquatic life in the oceans and other sources of water, such as the Mississippi River.

Trying to get a scale comparison of the fish behind me.

There was much more here to see than I thought there would be, and it was fun to read the facts that were posted along the way.  I think my favorite part was petting the sting rays in the touch pool on the second level.  Though the sea otters were also fun to watch!

After touring the entire aquarium, Casey and I were ready to head to our hotel.  There was a parking garage right next to the hotel, and we kept our car there for the rest of our trip.

We then rested and settled in to our hotel for a bit, before doing some research for places we wanted to visit during the rest of our stay in New Orleans.

Casey and I like to try different styles of beers and we wanted to take advantage of this while in NOLA.  We found a couple interesting breweries, but picked one within walking distance of the hotel for our first night.  Gordon Biersch of New Orleans has a nice selection of craft beers.  We ordered some appetizers and a flight of 6 tasters.

Gordon Biersch flight taster beer 1
My flight selection at Gordon Biersch of New Orleans.

Gordon Biersch flight taster beer

We had made some friends on the cruise that were also staying a couple nights in NOLA, so we decided to text them to see if they wanted to join us.  Lucky for us they hadn’t made any plans, and we spent the whole evening chatting away.  Star Wars came up in the discussion and one friend hadn’t yet seen the new movie, The Last Jedi.  We made a decision that the next evening we would all go and watch the new movie together!  The night ended on a cheery note as we walked back to our hotel.

Our second day in NOLA we wanted to explore the French Quarter, check out another craft brewery, as well as experience a little of bourbon street night life.

Walking from out hotel that morning we strolled through bourbon street.  The sun was shining and it was a beautiful December day.  There were shop keepers out spraying the sidewalks and streets with hoses.  If you know anything about New Orleans, it probably is that the city can get very, very dirty.

As we walked we had to admire the architecture.  I was intrigued by the French and Spanish influence the city had.

Saint Louis Cementary New Orleans

We attempted to find a nearby cemetery, as we had heard that New Orleans was famous for graveyard tours.  We were close to the St. Louis cemetery and thought we could just stroll through it.  However, we were disappointed that we were not allowed to explore the cemetery unless we were part of a tour.

We began to feel uneasy, as we had moved away from the “touristy” areas, so we decided to to walk towards Jackson Square.

Jackson Square NOLA statue
Jackson Square, New Orleans.

Jackson Square is a historic park in the French Quarter of New Orleans. All around the park you will find street artists.  We stopped and watched a magician perform, as well as a couple musicians.  I also enjoyed looking at the different paintings that artists were displaying around the fence of the park.

Saint Louis Cathedral NOLA
Saint Louis Cathedral. New Orleans.

It was a getting close to noon, and we wanted to try some authentic local cuisine for lunch.  The Court of Two Sisters was suggested to us by a couple of friends.  It is a lovely place! We were early enough to attend the Jazz Brunch and enjoy the assortment available on the buffet.  I LOVED the live jazz band that was playing.  The food was divine, and I ate so much I was almost in a food coma!

Court of Two Sisters New Orleans
Dining at the Court of Two Sisters.

The next stop on our daily activities was another brewery, Brieux Carré.  This is about a 15 minute walk from the Jackson Square area.  Walking gave us another chance to view the city.  We walked by many interesting shops along our way, along with passed a few places where there were live bands playing.

Upon getting the the brewery, I was a little unsure if it was open.  We found out that the brewery was fairly new.  The whole setup is like a long hallway that leads to an outdoor patio setting, which is dog friendly!

brieux carre new orleans
Entrance to Brieux Carré.

The beer selection was a nice variety. As we chatted with the brew-makers we learned that they were still experimenting with hops and flavors, so their menu was still evolving.

Brieux Carré beer list 12-2017
Enter a caption

Casey and I each built a 6 beer flight to taste the selections.  I think my favorite was the Imperial Oatmeal Stout.  The Pomerania Fight Club was an Imperial Sour French Saison, which had a nice floral taste to it, almost like a alcoholic tea.

Brieux Carré flight

After finishing up our flight we made our way back to our hotel.  I did a little shopping on the way.  We rested for a bit before heading to meet our friends for the Last Jedi movie.  The theater was really nice and we could order dinner during the movie.  We ordered a couple light bites and some drinks to enjoy.

After the movie we decided to check out Bourbon Street.  One of the most notorious night life scenes in NOLA.  It was still early in the evening, the sun had just set.  It was something I had never witnessed before.  Lots of lights and large crowds everywhere you turned, and they only grew bigger as the night went on.

We stopped at several places, and I cannot recall all the names of them.  Dodging in and out of bars, some with live music, some with just very loud music.  There were people dancing on balconies, some shouting down to the people below.

One place I do recall visiting was The Dungeon.  A very unique bar/club that is certainly not for everyone.  You would almost never notice the entrance, as it is in the middle of the block and basically a crack in the wall that you have to walk through to get to the front entrance.  There is no photography or videography allowed inside.  It’s quite a site to see, as the inside does in fact resemble a dungeon, plus a little more.  If you are open-minded then I definitely recommend checking it out just to say you have seen the place.

We enjoyed a beer here before returning the madness of Bourbon Street.  I almost gagged when I saw a woman walking down the street bare-foot, holding on to her stilettos in one hand and a drink in the other.  There were police cars or officers on horses at every other intersection of the street.  We guessed because we were getting close to the New Year’s holiday that the increase in security was an sensible precaution.

As I firmly believe, nothing good ever comes after midnight, we said good-bye to our friends and returned to our hotel.  We left the next morning to return to our home in Northern Louisiana.

There isn’t much I can say that I love about New Orleans.  Everything feels crowded, and it can be quite dirty.  It is an interesting place to visit, and I may end up going there once more.  When I do I would like to focus more on the live music, as I feel that we didn’t quite get to experience enough of it during this visit.

Have you traveled to New Orleans?  What were some places you liked visiting or recommend checking out?

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Thanks for reading!

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